The economic sanctions the U.S. has against the Cuban dictatorship are aimed squarely at the island’s totalitarian government and expressly exclude all humanitarian aid such as food and medicine. To my knowledge and understanding, there are no restrictions or limitations to the amount of aid that can be sent to Cuba by charitable organizations in the U.S. as long as there is substantial and verifiable proof it will not benefit the Cuban regime. Therefore, I find it puzzling that the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops would issue a statement calling for the “complete abolition” of the U.S. “embargo” against the Cuban government based on the dubious claim that it hinders Catholic organizations from providing aid to Cuba’s people.
Since there are no restrictions to providing humanitarian aid to the Cuban people, you have to wonder what would prompt the USCCB to issue such a statement. After reading their complete statement, however, I believe the motives become quite obvious.
US bishops call for ‘complete abolition’ of trade embargo against Cuba
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) is calling upon the Obama administration to lift “the existing embargo concerning Cuba, so that greater support and assistance may be provided to the ordinary citizens of this country.”
“Charitable organizations, including those of the Catholic Church, provide essential and life-preserving services to the most marginalized and impoverished Cubans,” said Bishop Pates, chairman of the USCCB’s Committee on International Justice and Peace, in a letter to Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton. “The staff members selflessly administering these facilities and senior Cuban Church officials responsible for these programs repeatedly told me that the efficacy of their work was hampered by their inability to obtain products from the United States due to the trade embargo.”
“All restrictions should be systematically examined and eliminated so that the complete abolition of the embargo and its harmful effects can be achieved,” Bishop Pates added. “These burdens are not borne by the members of the Cuban governing elite, but rather by the ‘ordinary’ Cuban and especially by the weakest members of that society. The Catholic Church in our country and in Cuba has long maintained that greater, rather than less, engagement with Cuba can bring about positive change in that country.”
“We hope and pray for prompt and appropriate measures to establish full diplomatic relations with Cuba and to withdraw all restriction on travel to Cuba and to offer greater people-to-people assistance to the Cuban people,” the prelate concluded. “In so doing, we will be supporting the people of Cuba, our neighbors but 90 miles away, in achieving greater freedom, human rights, and religious liberty plus also engaging a trading partner that will benefit American commerce.”